The City of Edmonton, through a motion of City Council, created a permanently endowed Urban Traffic Safety Research Chair at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Alberta. On July 1, 2011, after an international competition, Dr. Karim El-Basyouny accepted the position of the City of Edmonton Assistant Professor of Urban Traffic Safety at the University of Alberta. A joint initiative of the City and the University of Alberta, the Urban Traffic Safety Research Chair, herein referred to as Research Chair, is a one-of-a-kind academic posting for traffic safety engineering in Canada and probably in North America. This Research Chair position has a very unique scope with a focus on traffic safety in urban built environments.
Urban Safety Focus
Traffic safety is a major problem. Every year there are approximately 25 fatalities and 8,000 injuries in the city of Edmonton. The direct economic costs of traffic collisions have been estimated at a staggering CDN$ 1 billion annually. The problem is also a common one in the province and around Canada. Every four hours one person dies and every ninety minutes another person is being admitted to a hospital as a result of traffic collisions on Canadian roads. These statistics demonstrate that the traffic safety problem has far reaching social and economic impacts, affecting the lives and welfare of not only Edmontonians, but thousands of Canadians from around the country.
The urban context is very important as it addresses an unjustified gap in the safety literature. It is forecasted that within the next decade, the vast majority of people will be living in urban environments. This population shift will increase the demand on our transportation system, a system that is now responsible for 70% of all injury collisions in Canada. The truth is that the greater part of injury collisions occurs in urban environments, particularly at intersections. The problem is even more compounded when the safety of vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists, is considered.
The Research Chair acknowledges the existence of urban traffic safety problems and works collaboratively with the City of Edmonton through the Office of Traffic Safety and other transportation departments to establish and maintain sound scientific practices in the area of traffic safety making it an explicit priority in the planning, design, and operation cycles of Edmonton’s roadway infrastructure.
The Research Chair signed a multi-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City of Edmonton through the Office of Traffic Safety. The MOU sets forth a bi-lateral agreement between the City of Edmonton, Transportation Services, and the University of Alberta, Faculty of Engineering. This agreement does not imply a legal commitment, rather a framework for improving Urban Traffic Safety in Edmonton through research, education (academic and training), and outreach programs created or supported by the Research Chair.